Saturday, June 28, 2014

Disability Act of 1972

I don't know what to do anymore.

My employer has changed to a new healthcare provider. Unlike the previous provider, this insurance plan includes no hearing-aid coverage. It is not the insurance company at fault. They provide coverage. My employer elected not to include hearing health coverage.

So, I have gone from having financial assistance for hearing-aid purchases, to having none.

What does this mean to me?

As far as hearing-aids, I will not be able to replace the ones I have. Nor will I be able to afford repairs.

Personally, it is akin to having my civil rights ripped away. I had a taste of equality for two years. Now it is gone.

It's weird. When I was a teenager, I thought life would improve for those of us with hearing loss, especially with the Disability Act of 1972. But as long as we are systematically denied insurance coverage, we will NEVER be equal.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

It Stays With You for A Lifetime

 Part 2

The end of my senior year, our Block I sports awards.

Since my dad was an alcoholic, I discouraged my parents from attending. All I expected was to pick up my varsity letters in football and track. No biggie. I never dreamed I could be so wrong. What transpired was totally unexpected.

Ironically, or perhaps intentionally, I was seated at a table with my biology teacher, Mr. Dempster.

My sophomore year, I had a failing grade in his biology class. With my hearing loss, it was impossible for me to understand the unfamiliar biology vocabulary. This difficulty with understanding unfamiliar words was something I didn’t yet understand, nor did the adults involved in my life. 

Failing his subject, Mr. Dempster required me to attend after-school classes. Since I had made the varsity football team as a sophmore, I wasn’t suppose to miss after-school practice sessions. I had a choice, attend after-school biology or football. I wrongly chose football.

To make a long story short, caught doing the wrong thing, I was required to stop at Mr. Dempster’s house and apologize for skipping his after-school class. He was cool about it, and we seemed to kind of connect as student and teacher. But, I still miserably failed biology that year, and had to retake it the next semester.

So, back to the Block I sports awards.

I couldn’t hear. The awards came up, the recipients announced. All I could do was watch.

The award for Competitive Spirit came up… the people at my table indicated it was for me… and I got up to receive the award. Well, that was nice, I thought. I didn’t expect anything, but this was cool.

The next award, I totally expected another classmate to earn this, the Unsung Hero Award. It is one of the most prestigious sports awards at my school. This award represents everything about your character. It stays with you for life.

My name was announced. Again, I didn’t hear it. Mr. Dempster proudly looked at me and told me so. I was never more humbled, and speechless.

But, this story doesn’t end here. No.

One weekend later, and just before graduation, I was playing a parking-lot version of broomball. One of my opponents high-sticked me, and slashed a cut above my eye. Bleeding, we went to the nearest home, Josh’s. His father called my dad to come take me to the hospital for stitches.

While Josh and I waited on his porch for my dad, he explained his opinion. He told me that the only reason I was awarded the Unsung Hero Award, and not him, was because people felt sorry for me, because of my hearing loss.

I should explain… Josh finished quite high academically in our class, racking up numerous scholarships and recognitions.

And my one moment of glory…. despite Josh... ???

Well... thanks Terry... you were the best, the best of friends.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

High School Sucks? Part I

This is the 1st of a 2 part story .  Teen years and high school were rough. No one makes it without help. Your help...

The Good... the Bad

In some ways, I've really felt cheated in life, but I still believed in myself.

My neighbor friend, Terry, was like another brother to me. He died in an auto accident, age 19. I was only 16. I was lucky to have three older brothers, but it was Terry whom I looked up to.

Terry convinced me to take up sports in junior high school. Prior to then, I was just a wimp with no purpose. He encouraged me to tryout for football, so I did, and I made the team. No biggy, since most kids did make the team. But I was different. I needed an identity, and unknown to me, a vehicle to normalcy, to coolness. Football became that vehicle.

The next year as a sophomore, I was trying out for the junior varsity team. Because of my speed, instead, I made the varsity squad. It was totally unexpected. And the junior-class players were quite upset, especially since a few of their mates were assigned to the jv team. Some of the juniors were out to get me, but the senior players protected me. They told me so, and it was kinda cool just to know they cared about me. All I could do was play hard. Eventually, the junior players would come around to respect me.

But it was all because of Terry. I never would have tried for these achievements without his encouragement.

I was blown away when he died.

 It was a hot night, July 3rd. That evening my parents had a big row, so I fled the house.  I walked the village streets, had my usual imaginary pissed-off discussions with God. Why me, kinda stuff. A sorry attitude, but I was just a kid. I never really experienced a time without hearing loss.

That night I ventured back home after 10PM. Our house was all dark. It was quiet… still. Everyone had gone to bed. Regardless, I didn’t want to go inside. So I took a seat on the front porch steps. As I sat there thinking about my own fate… my parents fighting… life in general… a taxi-cab pulled around the corner… as it screeched to a stop… Terry’s mom jumped from the rear seat and ran to her house.

He was dead... a car accident. Wet roads and alcohol were involved. Someone else was said to be driving, but it was Terry’s car. I never blamed the driver.

I dedicated football to Terry. But I told no-one. There were discussions and rumors about Terry in our locker room, but I couldn’t share my feelings. We had been too close. No one would understand… or so I felt.  So I just competed as hard as I could. 

And I was rewarded….

Saturday, January 12, 2013



cruel affliction, profound hole
darkness moans, alone the soul
silent loudness, quiet blast
lurks the Demon, shadow cast

anvil, hammer, trumpets blare
chain reaction, trembling air
trilling whistles, pounding drums
cranked up volume, rendered mum

a deaf soul seeks no misery
it finds him through anxiety
from sight not sound, reactions come
frustrations tame him, thoughts go numb

twisted tension, rising tide
isolation, boxed inside
crushed emotions, self-esteem
deafened silence....Demon screams

Monday, August 06, 2012

I Didn't Do It!

I know this short film has been around for awhile. The best I can come up with is maybe 2007, made by the Deaf kids of SummerSign camp.

Although its intent seems to be an anti-drug message, I really like how the short film demonstrates miscommunications and misunderstandings for people with hearing loss.

Even though I am not profound deaf, the film still seems to appropriately portray the frustrations shared by those of us with moderate to severe hearing loss.

I was fitted with my 1st hearing-aid at age 6. It's been a long time since I was that kid. And I messed up a lot. From watching the film, it doesn't seem like much has changed.

Kudos to the campers!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Easier now?

This question came up on HLA (red) recently, followed by my answer(blue):

Quote: "What do you hate the most - the hearing loss itself or something that is caused by it?"

Since I have had hearing loss at a very young age, it is impossible to chose between the hearing loss itself, or the issues it causes.

Growing up with hearing loss itself creates so much doubt and frustration. As a hearing impaired adolescent, how does a teen keep pace with all his friends? Especially a hearing impaired kid who doesn't know a life any different? It's like exploring, keep trying until something works. But, what if you don't find what works?

As for the issues, when you add it all up, life is about relationships. And hearing loss is a huge roadblock. We don't all acquire the social/communication skills to overcome our hearing loss. Or maybe we learned too late in life.

There was a time in my life, like when I was 18, when I thought life with my disability would get easier as I got older. I never dreamed it would become more difficult. I don't know why that is.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Rib-Fest 2012

 A snortin' whiff of hickory!

Jeff with his band. Gosh, I first met him back in late 80's, I think. A southern country boy at heart. 

 Ahhh... these ribs were finger-lickin-stickin-good!

Thilly boys, wrong ribs!